COVID-19 Alaska Weekly Case Update: September 19 – September 25, 2021

Alaska Weekly Update

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Weekly Case Update
September 19 — September 25, 2021

Intermediate Statewide transmission
Rt1.16
HIGH Statewide alert status 1,223.1HIGH ALERT Hospital capacityHIGH Test positivity
9.27%
63%
of Alaskans aged 12+ are vaccinated
Red- Rt >1.2
Orange- Rt 1-1.2 Yellow- Rt <1
7-day case rate per 100,000 population. Red-  ≥100
Orange- 50-99.99
Yellow- 10-49.99
Blue- 0-9.99  
Multiple hospitals in Anchorage were at surge capacity the weekend of September 25th and September 26th due to high volumes of both COVID and non-COVID patients.Red->5%
Orange- 2-5%
Yellow- <2%
This includes people with at least one dose. Estimated AK population 12 and older of 607,022 from the AK Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

Case Trends

  • The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Alaska continued last week on an upwards trajectory.
  • Alaska currently has the highest number of cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population among the 50 states.  
  • Alaska has more people hospitalized with COVID-19 now than were hospitalized with COVID-19 at the peak of the previous surge in late November and early December 2020.
    • Among the 50 states, Alaska has the fourteenth largest percent increase in number of persons hospitalized with COVID-19 over the past two weeks.
    • Hospitalizations are continuing to occur in younger Alaskans, with the median age of persons hospitalized due to COVID-19 in 2021 being about 10 years younger than in 2020.
    • Among those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and with specimen collection dates from January 16, 2021 through September 25, 2021, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients had a median age 15 years younger than fully vaccinated patients.
    • Hospital capacity is reaching a point in Alaska where it may become difficult to care for everyone who needs care, even for non-COVID health concerns. Some care may need to be delayed, there may be long wait times, and hospital beds may not be available.

7-Day COVID-19 Case Rate — Statewide

  • 7,852 cases were reported in Alaskans between September 19–September 25. This is a 43.8% increase from the week before. While the magnitude of this increase partially reflects technical and process changes that reduced the backlog of reported cases, the large number of cases reflects the widespread and intense level of COVID-19 transmission in Alaska.
    • All four of the largest boroughs (Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, and Kenai Peninsula Borough) continue to exhibit very high levels of community transmission.
    • Rates in Juneau are quite high as well.
  • The 7-day test-positivity rate in Alaska is nearly the highest it has ever been, indicating widespread community transmission and the need for more testing.
  • While the intensity of COVID-19 transmission varies substantially between communities off the road system, COVID-19 cases are regularly reported from nearly all boroughs and census areas and some communities are experiencing extremely widespread transmission.

COVID-19 Guidance

Take action now to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and preserve health care capacity.

  • Please get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Currently available COVID vaccines will help protect you, your family, and your community against COVID-19, including the delta variant.
  • Wearing a mask when in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status is an important step to take to slow the spread of COVID-19. Most Alaskans live in an area with substantial or high community transmission where this action is needed to protect your health and the health of others.
  • Continue to avoid crowds and practice social distancing – particularly when indoors.
  • Seek testing if you have any symptoms or have been exposed to an infected person. If you do test positive, isolate right away, and notify your contacts. Ask them to get tested and, if they are unvaccinated, to quarantine.
  • If you test positive and you’re at increased risk for severe COVID, obtain monoclonal antibody treatment. This has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing the risk of hospitalization. This treatment works best when given early.
  • Persons at high risk includes but is not limited to persons who are elderly, immunocompromised, obese, pregnant, or have certain chronic underlying medical conditions.

Borough/Census Area Alert Level Trends

  • Alert levels are based on the case counts over the past 7 days as well as the daily number of reported cases over the past 7 days per 100,000 population.
  • Alert levels have been changed to more closely mirror CDC’s community transmission indicator and are calculated by borough and census area, rather than by region.
Borough/Census AreaAlert Level
September 7
Alert Level
September 13
Alert Level
September 20
Alert Level
September 27
CountRateCountRateCountRateCountRate
Anchorage Municipality1,399484.11,571543.72,570889.43,1251,081.4
Fairbanks North Star Borough537552.7628646.4733754.41,4311,472.8
Juneau City and Borough158497.3100314.7250786.8282887.5
Kenai Peninsula Borough471799.2275466.6369626.17061,198.0
Matanuska-Susitna Region667621.6741690.6771718.51,8481,722.2
Nome Census Area24245.731317.323235.470716.6
North Slope Borough1982,026.42422,476.72552,609.82182,231.1
Northwest Arctic Borough58764.929382.454712.12012,650.7
Chugach Census Area21311.126385.124355.5921,362.8
Copper River Census Area23852.225926.316592.8*391,445.0
Denali Borough10553.7*5**9498.3*16885.9*
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area22317.138547.851735.250720.8
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area23456.031614.630594.847931.8
Haines Borough9357.1*6238.1*16634.9*411,627.0
Petersburg Borough4**0**2**0**
Sitka City and Borough13152.5*10117.3*31363.742492.8
Skagway Municipality1**2**1**3**
Wrangell City and Borough6252.2*4**1**1**
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon4**1**4**26981.9
Ketchikan Gateway Borough88643.468497.269504.549358.3
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area38624.023377.729476.241673.2
Bethel Census Area110615.6148828.3178996.2173268.2
Kusilvak Census Area34420.429358.656692.451630.6
Aleutians East Borough9307.7*4**2**0**
Aleutians West Census Area20360.88144.3*6108.2*22396.8
Dillingham Census Area641,340.938796.144921.9751,571.3
Kodiak Island Borough49388.549388.586681.92001,585.9
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula7289.3*2**18743.8*662,727.3
Statewide4,067558.04,137567.65,699781.98,9151,223.1
  • *Rates based on <20 observations are statistically unreliable and should be used with caution.
  • **Rates based on <6 observations are not reported.

Vaccination Status

  • Anyone aged ≥12 years in Alaska is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you have received an initial dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to get your second dose too. Scientific studies have shown that two doses of an mRNA vaccine are more effective than one dose of an mRNA vaccine, especially against emerging variants of concern.
  • CDC recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of an mRNA vaccine.
  • Vaccinated persons with immunocompromising conditions should discuss with their health care providers the need for additional personal protective measures.
  • To schedule your vaccine appointment visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322.
  • To find clinics in your area you can visit vaccines.gov or text your zip code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish.
  • The Alaska vaccine dashboard is available online for the most up-to-date data.

Borough/Census Area Vaccination Coverage

This is the percent of Alaskans aged ≥12 years who received one or more doses of vaccine.

Borough/Census AreaSeptember 28
Aleutians East Borough89.0%
Aleutians West Census Area74.8%
Anchorage Municipality67.2%
Bethel Census Area79.5%
Bristol Bay plus Lake and Peninsula92.0%
Denali Borough72.8%
Dillingham Census Area65.1%
Fairbanks North Star Borough54.8%
Haines Borough74.7%
Juneau City and Borough84.6%
Kenai Peninsula Borough52.3%
Ketchikan Gateway Borough71.1%
Kodiak Island Borough73.0%
Kusilvak Census Area83.4%
Matanuska-Susitna Borough45.8%
Nome Census Area84.9%
North Slope Borough41.6%
Northwest Arctic Borough68.3%
Petersburg Borough69.1%
Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area70.5%
Sitka City and Borough83.5%
Skagway Municipality87.5%
Southeast Fairbanks Census Area37.9%
Valdez-Cordova Census Area66.7%
Wrangell City and Borough66.0%
Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon80.7%
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area83.3%
Statewide63%

New Hospitalizations and Deaths

  • Cumulative hospitalizations increased by 131 to 2,342. Hospitalization reports often lag when a case was initially reported.
  • 22.3% of hospitalized patients in Alaska had COVID-19 as of September 28, 2021.
  • On September 25th, there were 225 persons with COVID-19 in AK hospitals, which is an 11.9% increase relative to the week before when there were 201 persons hospitalized.
  • The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths among Alaska residents increased by 73 to 532. It is common to take some time for a death to be reported and verified, and deaths that occurred during September 19–September 25 may be reported in the future after death certificates are reviewed.

Total Confirmed COVID Beds Occupied

Variant Tracking

  • The most recent Genomic Surveillance data can be found on the “COVID-19 Variants” tab of the new Cases Dashboard.
Variants of ConcernCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Alpha (B.1.1.7)459+220 December 2020
Beta (B.1.351)7020 March 2021
Gamma (P.1/P.1.1/P.1.2)75+18 February 2021
Delta (B.1.617.2-like)2,613+36830 May 2021
 
Variants of InterestCases IdentifiedChange from Previous ReportFirst Identified in Alaska
Epsilon (B.1.427/429)137024 December 2020
Eta (B.1.525)1016 March 2021
Iota (B.1.526)2404 February 2021
Mu (B.1.621)159+36 May 2021
Zeta (P.2)4027 January 2021

Vaccine Breakthrough Cases

  • Vaccine breakthrough (VB) infections of COVID-19 are those detected in a person who is at least 2 weeks beyond their second dose of a 2-dose series or the only dose of a 1-dose series.
  • Alaska residents who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than those who are not fully vaccinated. (Age-standardized per capita rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations by vaccination status are updated monthly.)

  • The following updated VB data are among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years with a specimen collection date from January 16–September 25, 2021. 
  • From January 16–September 25, 2021, 41 deaths, 156 hospitalizations, and 11,497 cases with a VB infection were reported among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years. These counts are provisional and subject to change as data are compiled and reviewed. In that same time frame, a total of 47,996 cases, 1,201 hospitalizations, and 242 deaths were reported.
  • 76% of all cases, 87% of all hospitalizations, and 83% of deaths among Alaska residents aged ≥12 years from January 16–September 25, 2021 were in people who were not fully vaccinated. 
  • Specimens from VB infections are described in the “COVID-19 Variants” tab of the new Cases Dashboard. More detailed information about hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccine breakthrough infections among Alaskan residents can also be found in the monthly report.
  • Age-standardized per capita rates of COVID-19 cases by vaccination status are updated weekly. Many COVID-19 cases with specimen collection in the immediate past week (indicated by the grey box) may have not yet been reported or counted.

COVID-19 Communication Resources

DHSS offers support for one-time or reoccurring COVID-19 vaccination events. Submit your request for support and provide information about the event by filling out this form

COVID-19 Communication Resources

DHSS offers support for one-time or reoccurring COVID-19 vaccination events. Submit your request for support and provide information about the event by filling out this form.

Cases by Week of Onset and Age

Note: Quality assurance efforts are ongoing to attribute cases to the correct date on the onset date epi curve. Some of the cases attributed to the most recent week will be attributed to the previous week.

Cases by Week of Onset and Race

Note: Quality assurance efforts are ongoing to attribute cases to the correct date on the onset date epi curve. Some of the cases attributed to the most recent week will be attributed to the previous week.

Additional informational resources:

For DHSS media inquiries, please contact clinton.bennett@alaska.gov

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